IN 2015, breast cancer threw Amber Whalan’s life off course.
She was just 27 years old and pregnant with her third child when the devastating diagnosis came, and with very little choice, Whalan fought the dreaded disease.
Now, four years later, she is clear of cancer and inspiring those around her.
The Melbourne Football Club is continuing its partnership with Breast Cancer Network Australia this season and Whalan has been chosen as the face of this week’s annual game.
As a life-long supporter of the red and blue, Whalan embraced the opportunity to address the Melbourne playing group on Wednesday morning, giving the boys some motivation ahead of their clash with the Hawks.
“A cancer diagnosis isn’t dissimilar to footy – in a weird way,” Whalan said to the group at AAMI Park.
“If you want to get better, you have to fight. And you have to fight harder than you’ve ever, ever, fought before, because if you don’t, if you don’t win, the consequences are dire.”
While the pain and suffering Whalan experienced simply cannot be compared to a football game, she gave the boys some messages to carry with them throughout their careers.
“You have to fight for yourself and your fans, and I had to fight for myself and my family,” she said.
“And when the control of your own life is being taken away from you, it’s your attitude and your devotion that is ultimately going to get that control back.”
In Round 7, Whalan will be taking to the MCG and presenting the match ball to the umpires, as Melbourne looks to raise awareness for BCNA.
“The gorgeous seas of pink that we’re going to be seeing on Saturday in support of BCNA stirs many mixed emotions,” she said.
“It evokes sadness because of what the colour pink represents today – lives lost and changed in such drastic and dramatic ways, just because of cancer.
“But then on the contrary, it evokes feelings of joy and pride because every speck of pink that we’re going to see on Saturday represents hope for the future.”
Whalan’s messages touched the Melbourne players, with Simon Goodwin drawing inspiration from her story to encourage his side.
“It’s obviously a privilege for us guys to play in this game and raise awareness (for BCNA),” Goodwin said at the conclusion of Whalan’s speech.
“That higher purpose of what we’re able to give people going through some really hard times and what we can draw on from them (is really special).”
Melbourne will be wearing pink socks during this weekend’s game, while there will be pre-game activities in Yarra Park including a Mini Field of Women.
Click here to donate to Breast Cancer Network Australia.